Thursday, July 19, 2018

Two Open Space Victories for Northwest Framingham

In the past several weeks, our city, specifically the semi-rural northwest quadrant, has seen two important events regarding both the protection and use of open space.

First, on June 27, Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT), a local land trust, announced that they had raised enough money to close on the purchase of Wayside Forest, two parcels totaling 52 acres on Wayside Inn Road.

Then, on July 1, the Metro West Daily News reported that Baiting Brook Meadow Farm on Nixon Road received planning board approval for the development of a horse barn and riding ring by Iron Horse Dressage, a locally-owned business that will board horses and offer riding lessons.

One thing both properties have in common is that they are/were owned by George and DD Harrington, well-known in Framingham for their Christmas tree business that they have run at Baiting Brook Meadow Farm. George is also a past director and past president of Sudbury Valley Trustees.

Less well-known is the tremendous positive impact the Harringtons have had on preserving open space in Framingham. Between 1983 and 2000, they donated three parcels of land they owned on Edmands Road to SVT. In 2007, they made a gift to SVT of a conservation restriction on all 80 acres of Baiting Brook Meadow Farm. And then, in 2011, they made another gift of a conservation restriction on the 18 acres along Edmands Road where their house is located.

With Wayside Forest, the Harringtons once again demonstrated both their generosity and commitment to land preservation by donating one of the two parcels that make up the property, which are almost the same size, to SVT, effectively allowing SVT to purchase the land for half price. So rather than another subdivision of homes, Framingham has another green space for recreation that is forever protected.

At Baiting Brook Meadow Farm, the horse barn and riding ring, plus a house for the farm's employees, will only take up four acres. The remainder of the property, which abuts Callahan State Park, will remain open for public use.

Both Wayside Forest and Baiting Brook Meadow Farm are excellent examples of caring and enlightened owners partnering with a local land trust to ensure open space is protected, and in the case of Baiting Brook, also partially developed for a purpose suitable for open space, which also reinforces and expands the rural and agricultural traditions of this part of the city.

The Harringtons, in partnering with SVT, deserve the eternal thanks of Framingham residents who will benefit from their generosity and foresight for generations to come. Hopefully they will inspire more property owners in our city to follow in their footsteps.

Full disclosure: I am both a member of and a volunteer for Sudbury Valley Trustees.